It’s unofficial Star Wars Day again and we’re not too sure what to make of it these days. Some look at 4th May fondly and think of a fictional universe that they spent years imagining themselves in. Some are reminded of a simpler time. Others tend to think of it as a reminder of what happens when big corporations take over subcultures.
Here at AUGUSTMAN, we try not to think too much and just accept that the only way we’ll see Darth Vader slay more people with a lightsaber is to buy Porg plushies for all our nephews and nieces.
Instead of whining like we always do, we decided to list our very own unofficial rankings of every Star Wars film made, not including animated ones like the standalone Clone Wars film, to celebrate a franchise that has inspired plenty across the world.
Feel free to send us your grievances.
9. Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Nostalgia can be a real pain in the ass and given that this was the writer’s first Star Wars film he ever watched in the cinema, it was hard bumping this to the bottom. A rewatch of the original trailer however was enough to remind the writer of how painful it was to find out the truth: trailers would continue to lie to him all his life and that Episode 1: The Phantom Menace was absolutely terrible. It’s obvious that Lucas thought Binks wouldn’t work in the trailer which was a betrayal at the highest level, we feel.
Best: Duel of the Fates, final battle between Darth Maul and the Jedis, pod-racing
Worst: Jar Jar Binks should have been crushed by the droid transport and used as an emotional crutch for the Jedis to seek vengeance
8. Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Let’s be honest. No one really watches a Star Wars film for acting calibre. Not one film critic is going to tell you that putting Daniel Day-Lewis in any role would make the movies better. What we’ve come to expect from Star Wars films is the bare minimum of acting standards but having said that, Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman’s absolutely awful impersonation of human beings in love proved that the bar could be raised maybe a smidge.
Best: Obi-Wan’s badassery, Yoda and Dooku’s fight-off
Worst: ” I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth.”
7. Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
You thought we were going to just put in another prequel trilogy film here? Wrong. Third last spot belongs to Rian Johnson’s latest work from last year. The Last Jedi wasn’t exactly a bad film, we’ll give it that but it was divisive. We just happen to be in the camp that thinks you can’t have a line like, “Strike me down in anger and I’ll always be with you, just like your father” in the same show as “That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate, saving what we love.”
That and uh, milking weird space cows.
Best: A good look at Kylo Ren’s psyche
Worst: Killing off Laura Dern’s awesome Vice Admiral Holdo just so we could have weird floating-in-space-General-Leia-even-though-it-would-have-made-Ren’s-story-better-if-she-died-there
6. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Probably an unpopular opinion but we always felt that Return was ruined by Lucas’ want for a little more family-friendly entertainment. In the original script, Han Solo was apparently written off to die in a sacrificial manner, rallying the troops. Instead, Lucas wanted to keep it civil and decided not to end on a sombre note. We’re also sure that Lucas got ahead of himself with the original Death Star and couldn’t quite find something to create that same terror so we had Death Star 2.0.
There were also uh, Ewoks (essentially, ancestors to the Minion generation for toys).
Best: The now legendary Princess Leia slave costume
Worst: Finding out that Fatty McPale-Face was behind the galaxy’s most formidable Sith
5. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
We’re sure that the ensemble from the prequel trilogy finally started understanding their characters in Revenge because Christensen finally showed the sort of acting he was good at (being angry, basically). Other than that, the plot was focused and pretty much straightforward. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t good – but it was entertaining and didn’t leave us questioning much.
Best: Order 66, the “battle” between Anakin and Obi-Wan on Mustafar
Worst: The dialog in the “battle” between Anakin and Obi-Wan on Mustafar
4. Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Let’s just say if I wanted someone to come and do an homage to Star Wars, I would’ve just gone on fanfiction.net
Best: A Star Wars movie again after an entire decade
Worst: Disney killing off the entire expanded universe that the writer had invested years reading in libraries and second-hand bookshops
3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Maybe we just happen to be fans of the macabre but watching Disney resurrect Star Wars, attempt to fix a single plot hole by producing an entire film staffed with brilliant actors like Mads Mikkelsen then killing everyone off was pure joy to us. Rogue One had us constantly on the edge of our seats when we watched it, fixated on just how sanitised the plot would be. The transition to the opening scene of A New Hope was something we found ourselves almost standing up to clap about.
Perhaps what was great about the show was that even though there was a large cast, their motivations seemed understandable. We’re waiting on an extended cut of this one to delve a little deeper if possible.
Worst: The fact that we’ll never see this cast again. (Also, we know we stand in the minority when we say that having a blind Force-sensitive Donnie Yen felt like it did nothing for us whatsoever)
2. Episode IV: A New Hope
The writer remembers a cousin or an uncle remarking, “Oh, Star Wars is about to come on,” and forcing him to sit down and watch. From the opening crawl, Sean knew he was watching something special. Whether it was the music or the fact that a film just explained to him what was going on so he didn’t have to ask anyone, he will never know. For most, A New Hope would have been their first exposure to fantastical sci-fi in mainstream culture, like it was for Sean.
A New Hope was just the right balance of effects, story and cast. It never felt too large, even with the expanse of the galaxy as its backdrop and every character felt like they had their time in the Sun.
Best: Learning about the Force
Worst: The biggest plot hole ever (solved thanks to Disney, fortunately)
1. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Empire is always argued against A New Hope as the best Star Wars film and it makes sense. The main contention between the two, is really on how each film ends. The latter was shot by Lucas as a standalone film in some sense and only in 1981, was it renamed to be episodic after he had formed up the plot for the trilogy proper. The former was written and directed as the second part in a trilogy, really forcing it to end on a cliff-hanger.
But even then, Empire meant more than just a cliffhanger-induced curiosity. It saw the dark side as much as the light, it showed exactly how villainous Darth Vader could be, it had the OG lightsaber duel and of course, the biggest twist in sci-fi history.
Worst: Lando redeeming himself
If you aren’t suffering from a massive exposure to the Force by now, squeeze in a look at the new Solo film’s trailer. Fingers crossed it beats the prequels, at least.